In Chicago, the mid-nineteen eighties was a good time for a major career changing move, and that was exactly what happened to me. I had left the electrical cable business and decided to enter broadcasting school. After two years of course work, I graduated from the Columbia School of Broadcasting. I was geared up for work in radio and, at the time, was interning at a major Chicago radio station.
It was while interning here that I learned of an opportunity to audition for a news anchor job at a small television station that served the westernmost suburbs of the city. I applied for and received the job, effectively transitioning from radio broadcasting to television.
Channel 6 This Week
“Channel 6 This Week” was a program that featured local news, sports, and interviews with various celebrities that were in town. On this particular program, my job was to host the show, deliver the news, and conduct the interviews. One of the highlights during my time there was to interview Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Conner, both of whom were in town for a stage variety show.
Later on, I began producing other programs for the studio. One of my favorite productions was the show “Music Forum.” During my time with this show, a particular stand-out memory is having the musicians that performed in the Chicago showing of “Cats” come to the studio for a taping which I hosted.
Another involves one of the finest actors to work with in Chicago, John Nicosia. I had constructed a nightclub set for “Music Forum” that had a bar, table and chairs, and a small stage. John was the wise bartender with the flexible ear, and John Balleras of “Downbeat” magazine provided the music for a soulful blues singer named Polly. Nicosia got the laughs from the “regulars,” while Balleras drew the tears from the melancholy patron who had been stood-up for his first date. Of them all, this show lingers sweetest in my memory.
Another memorable show I produced and directed had Chicago radio personality Barry Winograd as the headliner. Barry hosts the jazz/blues fusion on WXRT radio and also is a host on Chicago Public Radio. Barry, a baritone sax player, and his fellow bandmates including drummer Steve Smith, performed on the “Music Forum” stage for an unforgettable hour of great original music. The show was taped in 90 minutes with no re-takes and a minimum of editing. Our cameras never had it so good!
During the time spent with Channel 6 television, I produced a wide variety of programming from music, magic, and health to shows about fashion, flying, and community events. It was a busy time and I enjoyed each and every moment of it. The staff of producers, and the board that looked after the funding and management of the station were fantastic people to work for and with. While the business of family life eventually took me in a different direction, I often think that one day I may again enjoy working in television.